14 Careers That Could Make You a Millionaire Before You Retire
In a survey of millionaires, these are the top careers where you could sock away a million by the time you retire—and many don't even require an advanced degree.
Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.
Average civil engineer salary: $86,640
Average mechanical or industrial engineer salary: $87,370
“We surveyed over 10,000 millionaires all across the country for the researching finding in my book Everyday Millionaires: How Ordinary People Built Extraordinary Wealth—and How You Can Too,” says author Chris Hogan. “The things that we found was that these were regular, everyday people working regular, everyday jobs.”
Hogan and his research team asked for the millionaires’ professions to learn more about how these people became net worth millionaires—which includes how much money they have when they factor in what they own minus what they owe. “The number one profession amongst these millionaires was engineers,” says Hogan. “That doesn’t surprise me; they’re good at planning.” It’s also among the 100 best jobs in this 2020 U.S. News and World Report Survey.
In this feature, we included median 2017 salaries from the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, but, it’s important to have conversations with people in your profession and region, advises Vicki Salemi, career expert at Monster. “Salaries for one position in a major metro area like New York City can be vastly different to another in a rural part of the country as well as levels comparing a new manager to a manager who has seven to ten years of experience,” she says. You can also take into consideration competition for jobs. Monster looks at hiring patterns over the past six months to see what’s hot. Learn the 10 things successful people do every morning.
Average certified public accountant salary: $70,500
“The second most common profession amongst the millionaires we surveyed were accountants,” says Hogan. “That doesn’t surprise me either because they’re good at counting.” There’s a high potential for upward mobility in this career as well, according to that U.S. News and World Report survey.
The number one thing that millionaires across the country said contributed to their millionaire status was utilizing company-sponsored retirement plans, says Hogan. “You’ve got two best friends with your money: time and compound interest.” Learn these attributes of wildly successful people that you should memorize.
Average high school teacher salary: $60,320
Average middle school teacher salary: $58,600
Average kindergarten and elementary teacher salary: $58,230
Depending on your state, most teaching positions require a bachelor’s degree, though some require a master’s degree. “Teachers were the third most common profession among our everyday millionaires surveyed,” says Hogan. “That blew me away. This is a profession that I know is undervalued, [often] underpaid. So how did these teachers reach millionaire status when they retired? This shows that reaching millionaire status has nothing to do about your job, your income, or even where you went to school. It’s about having a plan for your money.” Don’t miss the 10 things you need to do right now to retire early.
Human resources manager
Average human resources manager salary: $110,120
There’s a wide range of positions in the human resources field. An HR manager oversees recruiting, hires new employees, does strategic planning with executive members of the company, and is often a liaison between upper management and employees. The good thing about human resources careers is that you can apply those skills and your experience to industries where there’s rapid growth and expansion. “Any industry where there is a strong need and there’s growth, there’s a need to hire these people,” says Salemi. Consider a human resources job in healthcare or technology if you want to work in a sector that’s likely to have job security and growth opportunities, suggests Salemi. For people with these skills, there are opportunities to focus on recruiting as a contractor in a growing industry, as well. Check out the 16 words and phrases you should never have on your resumé.
Average software developer salary: $103,620
Afraid that all tech jobs will be off-shored overseas? “Software developers and software applications jobs are here to stay because technology continues to evolve and there’s a labor shortage, especially within tech for qualified candidates,” says Gia Janashvili, tech entrepreneur and founder of Veli. “Also, as the app market has exploded, a company that had an online presence realizes they should have a strong presence on your phone, too, so they need resources to develop an app.”
Average computer and information research scientist salary: $114,520
Think about all the data you’re submitting to companies when you make an online purchase, or the details that websites are collecting as you click on a link or read a particular article. All that information may be applied to improving, enhancing, and finding new ways to use technology. This field is expected to grow 19 percent from 2016 to 2026, according to BLS.gov. “There was definitely a labor shortage when I was recruiting for data scientists,” says Salemi. “It wasn’t uncommon for those professionals to get multiple offers.”
Information security analyst
Average information security analyst salary: $98,350
Every company needs to protect their servers and put security systems in place to prevent a data breach. Companies are looking for employees with experience in this field to ensure their networks are secure. This position requires a bachelor’s degree but it’s one where employees could move within any industry they’re interested in—from retail, finance, healthcare, manufacturing, and more. You may be interested in such a position if you can guess the 9 reasons a password will get you hacked.
One of the most notable attributes among the millionaires in the Hogan survey was that they are hard workers. “A hard worker is someone who shows up and does what needs to get done,” says Hogan. “They understand not only their role; they also understand how their role fits into the bigger picture with the company. Doing their job and doing it with excellence is something that’s a character trait among millionaires.”
Average general sales manager salary: $124,220
Average sales manager in technology salary: $137,650
Any company interested in generating new sales and growing their business will need successful sales managers. These positions are found in consumer products, online advertising, medical, and an array of other industries.
Research each field for what sounds interesting to you, suggests Salemi. “See if you can test-drive it. You may want to volunteer at a local hospital. See if that’s the right setting for you. Take classes or a course in a technology field you’re curious about. Make sure any career is one you can see yourself enjoying, excelling in, and where there is room for growth,” Salemi says.
The personal growth aspect is really important, says Hogan. Consider what your gifts and talents are and what you want to pursue, he suggests. “I think it’s really important to know, how can we grow ourselves so we can also grow our income. And then grow our potential for our future, for our financial freedom later in life.” Check out the highest-paying job in every state.
Average dental hygienist salary: $74,820
Yes, you have to be okay with looking into patient’s mouths all day and cleaning teeth, but this field has been growing for years and there are opportunities to make a lot of money in it, and some positions require only a two-year degree. “When you’re looking at a career, determine the time and the money investment towards getting a degree in a field like this where you may have steadier pay than if you worked in a different area,” says Salemi. “One of the best ways to get on that path towards retiring as a millionaire is to ask yourself, ‘Where is my career now? Where is it headed? Where should I be looking?’ ”
Average genetic counselor salary: $80,370
The role of this person is to assess individual or family risk for a variety of hereditary conditions, such as genetic disorders and birth defects. You’ll need a master’s degree in this field. “Employment of genetic counselors is projected to grow 29 percent from 2016 to 2026—much faster than the average for all occupations,” according to the BLS.gov site.
“As technology has evolved and advanced, so has the need for counselors to interpret data and genetic information from tests,” says Salemi.
Average physical therapist salary: $87,930
Yes, you need a doctorate or professional degree and it’s a competitive field but this career is very much in demand. Employment rate is expected to grow 28 percent by 2026. “This is a fast-growing occupation because there’s going to continue to be a strong need for physical therapists as the population continues to age and life spans continue to increase,” says Salemi. These therapists are an important part of rehabilitation and as the Baby Boomer generation ages, chances are they are going to need physical therapy. These are some of the highest-paying jobs—but they’re not for everyone.
Average mathematician salary: $101,900
“Mathematicians possess strong quantitative skills, and these skills transfer to roles such as economist, actuary, financial planner, investment analyst, statistician, operations research analyst,” says Salemi. “Roles with numbers are an excellent fit so relevant industries for that career are finance and insurance, but you aren’t limited to those two industries.”
Average database administrator salary: $90,070
Not only does the job pay well, but employment for DBAs is growing at an above-average pace, according to a survey on GoBankingRates.com that crunched salary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Salary.com and Glassdoor. You’ll need a bachelor’s degree but it’s a worthwhile investment for a career like this where employment is on the rise.
“The millionaires we talked to were goal setters,” says Hogan. They created goals for themselves, but also stayed connected to these goals. They tracked their progress and aimed their effort toward a destination. It’s important for anyone out there who’s trying to accomplish something, to not just be interested in the goal, but be committed to it.”
Average statistician salary: $87,780
According to that U.S. News and World Report we referenced, this is one of the 13 best jobs in 2019. A statistician is using data to help make company decisions. The unemployment rate in this field is a low 0.9 percent and future job prospects are looking very good, with a 33 percent employment growth rate expected by 2026.
Even if you don’t see yourself making moves to any of these fields in the near future, you can still retire a millionaire by being focused on saving and investing the money you earn—even if it’s nowhere near six figures.
“The millionaires surveyed practiced intentionality with their finances,” says Hogan. “It’s less about how much they’re making and it’s more about what they’re doing with the income they have. They’re practicing the habits of budgeting and getting themselves out of debt. They’re investing consistently over time. I believe that anyone in any career has the potential to become a millionaire. The average millionaire is a regular man or woman that’s working a regular job. They’re just very focused and intentional with their money,” says Hogan. Read on for money-saving tips from self-made millionaires.